NEW DELHI, Feb 27 � In a major morale booster for groups agitating for separate States, the Centre today constituted a one-man expert panel to be headed by former Home Secretary GK Pillai, to study and examine the demand for Bodoland. The committee has been asked to submit its report within nine months.
The decision to set up the one-man expert body was conveyed to a delegation of BPF headed by its chairman Hagrama Mohilary, when they called on Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde at his North Block office this afternoon.
A notification subsequently issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the expert committee will consult all sections of the society on the viability of creation of a separate State.
The committee will submit its report and recommendations to the MHA within nine months, the notification said.
However, the MHA notification said that the terms of reference are being finalised and would be issued separately.
Significantly, the suggestions for constitution of an expert panel was made by the BPF at its last tripartite meeting with Joint Secretary (North East) Shambhu Singh. The BPF had even suggested the name of GK Pillai.
The Home Minister meanwhile, is meeting other groups led by the All Bodo Students� Union (ABSU) tomorrow. The BPF delegation today included State Minister Chandan Brahma, Lok Sabha MP SK Bwiswmutiary, Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary, besides Hagrama Mohilary.
The pressure on the Centre increased after creation of Telangana. Currently, the Centre is holding separate negotiations with various organisations, including those demanding separate States of Kamatapur, Karbi Anglong and Dimaraji.
Meanwhile, talking to this newspaper, Biswajit Daimary said they have moved on to the next phase of their movement and creation of a separate State would fulfil the aspirations of all tribal groups living in the Bodoland area.
Describing the constitution of the Pillai Committee as a major move by the Centre, Daimary said that the proposed Bodoland State would have a 70-member Assembly and three-four Lok Sabha seats. The Bodoland State would be entitled to annual Central assistance of Rs 6,000 crore. The BTC is currently getting an assistance of Rs 350 crore.
Daimary further clarified that they would be making a detailed submission before the Pillai Committee, including the structure of the new State and its revenue model. The BTC currently has a population of 32 lakh, but the boundaries of the proposed State extend from the Sankosh river to Sadiya in the North Bank, he added.
This is a positive development and all groups living in the BTC area should now make their submissions before the one-man panel.